By Santosh Patnaik
Vijayawada: The impact of COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding, Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), is confident of increasing seafood exports from India, mainly Andhra Pradesh.
MPEDA an autonomous body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industries. Andhra Pradesh is considered an important hub due to its vast seacoast, the second largest after Gujarat.
With vannamei (white-leg shrimp), a exotic species developed by aqua farmers becoming highly popular in the export market due to its low price and culinary taste, MPEDA, which is mandated by the Government of India to promote exports, is focusing on increasing aquafarms in AP, which has a lion’s share of India’s vannamei cultivation.
India produced 7, 47,111 MT of shrimps last year, of which over 68% had come from AP’s over 52,000 shrimp farms covering a water spread of 75,000 hectares.
Visakhapatnam Port is a big centre for export of seafood through reefer containers. It has a world-class container terminal under PPP mode developed by Visakha Container Terminal Private Ltd (VCTPL), a joint venture of J.M Baxi Group and Dubai Ports (DP) World.
Anil Narayanan, Deputy COO of VCTPL said during 2019-20, they had exported 35,000 tweety-foot units (TEUs) of reefer containers, 90% of its seafood mainly vannamei. Despite dislocation in road traffic for sometime during lockdown, this year they were expecting to handle almost the same volume and increase it significantly in the next financial year.
Fifty percent of seafood goes to the United States, Europe 10 pc, China 18 pc, Middle East 4.5 pc and South East Asia 7 to 8 pc.
Recognising the growing importance of AP, MPEDA has launched India’s first toll-free call centre here exclusively for aquafarmers. Now they can call for guidance 24×7 on toll-free number 1800-425-4648.
K.S. Srinivas, MPEDA Chairman, said, “I request the aquafarmers to make use of the toll-free number 1800-425-4648 with IVRS (interactive voice response system) facility established at Vijayawada to clear their technical doubts from the experts and not to fall in the trap of quacks. It will also help them in seeking information about the various support schemes extended by the field offices of MPEDA.”
Dr. Karthikeyan, MPEDA Director, said the small-scale aquaculture farmers are encountering problems in getting proper guidance and technical support, especially during the culture period of farming.
“It forces them to seek advice from inexperienced consultants and feed/input suppliers who hold sway over the majority of small aquaculture farms. This often leads to crop failures and quality issues,” he pointed out.
Bala Subramanian V, General Secretary, Prawn Farmers Federation of India, members of National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture (NaCSA) and other stakeholders also participated in the function.
Shri K. Sivarajan, Deputy Director, MPEDA Regional Division, Vijayawada, proposed a vote of thanks.